I am working early and posting from my unpreferred device. The app changed the keyboard. And I am at the older person sucky lemon face stage where I am thoroughly putout by change. Meanwhile, yesterday my husband spilled tea onto his keyboard. So he has borrowed the keyboard from my preferred device. But I am a kind wife and am not disturbing his sleep by fumbling in the dark to unplug that keyboard. But you get the picture of my up-scuttled (a favourite descriptive of a late, lamented friend) morning routine.
Meanwhile, dawn is creeping on. Poetry practice in the notebook with the light- pen (light sabre?) has happened and I am impatiently wanting to get to the second phase. And what turned up in the notebook was pretty weird, a fragment of a lucid dream state?
I realised yesterday that I had got a little bit ahead of myself on the Hero’s Journey. But I woke up with the kernal of the poem for the hero’s return. Only when posting I realised there was a gap for the quest! But then, sometimes that is just how inspiration rolls. At any rate, today I am redressing that deficit to the tale of the hero’s journey.
What beast yelps while unborn, its mother unfound? That stalks the deer, while running the fox to ground?
Riddle a life. See the tooth marks leaving scars. What rides you more? Beast? Or quest? What's your pole star?
When does beast become the quest? It is not the cup you seek, but drink in Camelot.
Like snow falling when caught out knee deep, be careful! Do not be tempted to fall asleep.
That is the beast. It can lull. It's paw can sweep. Be on your guard. Do not risk falling asleep.
There are many slips before the grail can be put to your lips. What's your beast? What price booty?
What villainy or treachery can detour a sacred trust? Greed, envy, pride, rage, sloth, lust...
When does the beast consume the cup? Guzzling fire it will combust, body ash, its heart expired.
A quest is not a treasure chest for pirates. The quest begins, always ends, in God's pockets.
You would think it would be all triumphal on the hero’s return. But actually, this is a really tough stage of the hero’s journey. You go back to ‘sort of’ normal. Except nothing ever will be normal again. But you need to build a new normal.
You can never go home again once you have been away. It's just a bit scary to those who stayed. They don't know you anymore. They have not seen what you saw. They don't know what to say, do not wish to imagine what adventure's trials wrought.
Sometimes with luck there will be one who recognises the spark who shares your pluck who will then set sail with you to new horizons who will build you a home in both your hearts who is your return in hope and love.
The next phases of the Hero’s Journey involve meeting with a mentor – The Good Witch Glenda, Obi Wan Kanobe, Professor Dumbledore – before there are trials. It is well out of fashion now, although it still applies to some trades, but there used to be seven year apprenticeships. The etymology of apprentice reflects a legally binding agreement for a student to learn and the ‘master’ to teach a trade or craft. The old Latin root means ‘to take hold, grasp.’
We speak of ‘grasping the nettle’ and this leads on to the next phase, the road of trials. This is the initiatory phase of the hero’s or shero’s journey. They have the tools (or a trade or craft), but now they graft. And their craft is not in the service of self. A s/hero journeys in the service of the greater, collective good.
Seven years impressed, ready to shed a skin, slither out into the world a fully fledged magician.
Seven years at the feet of the learned teacher sat beneath a bodhi tree. Seven years of all of that, forged and founded, fighting the urge to flee. Seven years bonded, then anointed and set free
to journey on one's own path - even if this leads into the wilderness with all coming to nought. Being melted down to nothingness, being unwound and untaught. This hammers out some new shapes. Remade now, but not for it's own sake.
A tool is meant to be of service. To find one's purpose, the final task for any sorcerer and their apprentice.
Joseph Campbell’s stages of the hero’s journey has been stewing on the back burner of my brain. I have been asked to devise some poetry writing workshops for prisoners on that theme on the foot of the concert my husband devised and delivered just before Winter Solstice at our local open prison. It is, I have to admit, a useful framework to do exploratory writing on one’s autobiography and spiritual journey in life.
When one considers both the Journey and the Call to Adventure the zero tarot card fashioned as The Seeker in Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot deck certainly feels apt. In Ellen Lorenzi- Prince’s Dark Goddess Tarot the zero card is the Sheela-na-Gig, displaying her yoni as the great portal of beginnings and endings.
In traditional tarot decks, this is The Fool card or The Jester. The Wild Card.
So I suspect that over the next few days I am going to poke and prod at elements of the Hero’s Journey as I pace out the hows and wherefors of a couple workshops. As always, I explore the etymological roots of key words. The roots for the English word hero are a bit uncertain – demi-god, brave, illustrious. The definition seems to cover it, although it does seem rather phallo-centric. Well, we all know sheroes, those brave, demi-goddess women, too!
Adventure, however, is waiting for the arrival.
is not the one who liked the adreneline rush at the odds, who liked the shape of the caper.
No, the hero sensed it before it happened, knew the risks was just waiting for the call.
Picked it up, listened to the message, despite all answered and adventured.
We have certainly experienced such mild winters as this one (so far) since we moved to West Cavan seventeen years ago. I do remember a Christmas Eve dressed in just a light pant suit with a scarf at my throat, not needing gloves. But it is also very dry, instead of wet, too. And I like to record these observations, that some Januarys are full of frost, ice and snow. Others see the snowdrops six weeks early in raised beds and other bulbs popping up.
Blooming in Winter
The azalea in bud on Stephen's Day bloomed one single blossom the day she died.
I remember a January day nearly forty years gone, seeing roses in Victoria Park, Hackney, London,
blooming despite what felt like bitter damp and cold, bone soaking and searing all simultaneously, a mystical
wonder, or wonder of some sort, some kind. There in a two-faced month of dark and cold that bulbs would peep out and there are some bold
enough to bloom early, pioneer plants at the vanguard, with a differant narrative. They wear lanyards spelling hope.
Nothing can be completely done or dead. Some bloom early and others late, wither, die back, return. We each find our own thread.
See the length stretch out. Await the scissors or harvest scythe. The cut. The gathered fruit. The miracle there will be blooms again.